Cross Country Journey: Waveland, MS to Marfa, TX
The last post brought us from Palm Beach, FL to Waveland, MS. Plodding on westward, we opted to skip New Orleans, having visited there not long ago. And thus began the seesaw portion of the drive, whereby due to the construction of this section of Highway 10/ 12, the bus is induced into a fore to aft rocking motion that made me glad that the family is comfortable in the Mountaineer rather than green faced in the bus. I do love this piece of these United States and although we didn’t make many stops, enjoyed the scenery and the bayou breeze from my four by six inch driver’s window opening. I arrived at Palmetto Island State Park, Abbeville, LA just before dusk after sitting through some unfortunate traffic in Baton Rouge. I always prefer the backroads and drive them as often as possible but this was one of those days that we had decided that making tracks on the interstate would allow for more time to enjoy Palmetto Island State Park. Which backfired. The State Park is beautiful, however. Widely spaced campsites divided by wide swaths of trees hanging over a carpet of fern and palmetto. I went for my nightly walk around ten o’clock and was greeted along the way by deer, armadillo, skunk, and a sounder of boars. Rise with the sun and prepare for another day on the highway. Palmetto Island is about 40 miles south of the 10 and the hour or so drive on two lane country roads was a welcome break from the highway. And not being the slowest rig on the road was an unexpected relief. For a six or so mile stretch I followed a farm vehicle that took up every inch of both lanes plus as much of the berm as it could get. The next stop was Crowley Truck Stop, where for the first time since purchasing the bus I was able to fill the fuel tank completely. Due to issues I believe i’ve resolved, the tank had developed something of a vacuum that hadn’t allowed me to put in more than a few gallons at a time prior to this stop. I only mention this because this meant that I would finally be able to take a fairly accurate fuel mileage calculation at the next fill up. Two hundred or so miles down the road our good friends the Newberrys await, our only night on the trip outside the bus. As usual Townes and Renae arrived and settled in long before me. Upon my arrival Townes was engrossed in kid stuff with the Newberry’s son and Renae was deep in conversation so I powered down the bus in the driveway and pulled up a stool in Tyler’s workshop. He was busy welding together a workbench on which to weld things so I kicked back and chatted with him about his numerous projects. Tyler, by the way, is a self taught artisan of all sorts. He makes wonderful things of leather, wood, and iron under the nameplate Nice Custom Goods while also being a musician, father, and husband among other things. We lit out of Houston the next morning with Texas hill country in our sights. Renae and Townes got a good lead on me so that they could take in some of Austin and the periphery of SxSW, which happened to be taking place at the time.I on the other hand enjoyed the cooler temperatures of the hill country and stopped at practically every wayside on the route, having spent little time in the area previously. On this particular occasion, I arrived before the family and settled in at Ladybird Johnson Park in Fredericksburg, TX. The park itself doesn’t have much to offer aesthetically, but the backdrop of surrounding hills and the small town of Fredericksburg made up for it. The next day was more wide open landscapes and rolling hills en route to Marfa, TX and by mid afternoon Renae and Townes were waiting to guide me in to El Cosmico. Our experience at El Cosmico was nothing short of fantastical. They welcomed us to stay in their parking lot, not having the prerequisite accommodations for a forty foot bus, or any type of RV for that matter. For a pittance we were given access to their shower houses, bathrooms, outdoor kitchen, and the run of the place and we made the best of it. We happened to be in Marfa the night of one of the Presidential debates and to our bewilderment, the entire town was essentially shut down while people watched. The restaurant we stopped in to had a great outdoor seating area complete with ping pong, foosball, and a game involving swinging a ring attached to a rope that I’d never seen before. They were happy to have us but wouldn’t serve food, as the staff and all patrons were glued to the television. It was suggested that we stay but go get pizza from a nearby joint. I did, it was closed for the debate. I ended up getting veggie burgers from a place across the street, where despite my pleading, I was forced to take a soda and a bag of chips with our burgers. No matter how strongly I insisted that I’d pay the full amount but didn’t want the sodas or the chips, they equally argued that I take them. I did. And I left them outside the burger joint. The three guys running the place weren’t aware of the debate, or perhaps much else. And they made a darn good veggie burger.
On the way out of Marfa we stopped off on the side of US 90 to take in the infamous Prada Marfa installation. The absurdity of the store sitting on the side of a lightly traveled back road in the stark Texas countryside was amusing to say the least. And the road called so off we went, ever westward.